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A liposarcoma is a rare type of cancer. It forms in your fatty tissue. This type of tumor can grow anywhere in your body. Common places include your abdomen, thigh, and behind your knee.

A liposarcoma is a malignant tumor. This means your cancer can spread to other areas, including vital organs. You must get treatment.


In most cases, this cancer doesn’t cause symptoms. Sometimes, a visible lump develops under your skin. This often isn’t painful at first. Symptoms can include:

  • A new lump anywhere on your body. Or an existing lump may keep growing.

  • Painful swelling or numbness in the area around your lump

  • Black, bloody, or tarry stool

  • Blood in your vomit

  • Stomach pain or cramping

Who’s at risk

A liposarcoma is a very rare type of cancer. Benign (noncancerous) fat tumors called lipomas are much more common. Experts aren’t exactly sure how you develop soft tissue sarcomas. A few factors may increase your risk. These include certain genetic syndromes, exposure to radiation during treatment for another cancer, exposure to some chemicals, and a damaged lymph system. Liposarcomas tend to show up between 50 and 65 years of age.


Your healthcare provider will likely do a biopsy to check if you have this cancer. This is a test that removes some of your suspicious tissue. It’s either done by surgery or with a needle and syringe. A pathologist, a doctor who looks at tissue samples under a microscope, will check for cancer cells. If he or she finds liposarcoma, your healthcare provider may order more tests. These can show the extent of your cancer and how far it’s spread. The tests could include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, or an ultrasound.


The most common treatment for a liposarcoma is surgery to remove the tumor. This can be risky, especially if your tumor is close to a vital organ. Most people will have radiation or chemotherapy or both after surgery. This helps to kill cancer in any nearby tissues. Sometimes, your healthcare provider will suggest radiation or chemotherapy before your surgery. This may be done to help shrink your tumor so it can be removed while sparing nearby organs.


A liposarcoma is a malignant tumor. This means it can spread to or erode into other parts of your body. These include vital organs and tissues surrounding the original tumor. If left untreated, a liposarcoma can be life-threatening. Early detection and treatment are very important.

When to call your healthcare provider

A liposarcoma is often tricky to spot. See your healthcare provider right away if you notice a new or unusual lump underneath your skin or anywhere on your body. You should also see your healthcare provider if you have any of the other symptoms.

Online Medical Reviewer: Alteri, Rick, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Levin, Mark, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/13/2016
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